Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Switching to Double Bass From Bass Guitar: Getting In Physical Shape

I have some time off from my regular rock band and now have the time to get up to speed on double bass (i.e. my big stand up acoustic bass).  I haven't touched my double bass in months and I know the transition back to it will involve effort.  On a stand up, the strings are usually heavier and the neck bigger.  More effort is required for both pressing and plucking the strings.  And, there are no frets!

Dealing with no frets:  I decided to deal with this my marking note positions on my neck with a Sharpie pen. I used black for regular notes and red for the sharps or flats.  Not cool, you should know just where to put your fingers totally by feel.  However, I don't have time to be cool, I want to actually know where F. G, A, B, and C is on the E string, so I can play chords (arpeggios) without guessing.

Now that that's done, I will familiarize myself with the big neck by playing major scales and arpeggios for the next two weeks.  This will condition my fingers (the bass guitar does not condition them enough for a double bass), get me used to the bigger reach for playing arpeggios, and help me learn all notes on the neck by feel.  While playing major scales and major arpeggios, I will concentrate on producing a clear tone, not a muffled one due to poor fingering.

Playing a double bass is much more physically demanding than playing a bass guitar, so my initial practice routine, as described above, should get me in shape over the next couple of weeks.

To keep the practice interesting, I will also play the double bass to some fairly easy songs and record it to discover weak spots in my playing.

I will allocate a minimum of one hour a day on double bass practice.  The above practice plan is meant mostly to get my into physical shape to play double bass.

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